Dhauli Hill


Dhauli Hill

Dhauli is the very first place that I remember visiting as a tourist along with my parents way back in 1994. I did visit Puri the Miami for all Bengali’s before that when I was very young but I do not remember those trips. If I remember it correctly my sister did not travel with us and it was just an extension of an official trip for my parent. Honestly, for me, it was a very boring white structure on top of a mountain but what I enjoyed was the variety of snacks, peanuts, cashew nuts that were being sold out there. For me, it was just an outing one evening and nothing more.

The next time I visited Dhauli was in the year 2019 when I was traveling along with others bloggers on behalf of Times of India and Odisha Tourism covering Buddhism trails in Odisha. It was in February and along with that, we had special VIP seats at the Dhauli Kalinga Festival.

What To See Around Dhauli Hill

Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Dhabaleswar Temple
Rock Edicts of Ashoka
Ashoka Pillar & Buddha Statue Park
Kalinga Dhauli Mahotsav

Dhauli Shanti Stupa

There are quite a few interesting sites at Dhauli Hill which is also known as Dhauligiri. People usually go there to see the Dhauli Shanti Stupa (Peace Pagoda) which understandably is the most visually appealing structure out there. However, this is not a historical site as such. Construction of this peace pagoda commenced on 25th August 1971 and was completed and inaugurated a year later on 8th of November 1972. The construction was led by Japan Buddha Sangha and the Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangha under the leadership of Nichidatsu Fuji Guruji who has been known for building peace pagodas around the world. Apart from Odisha that had also built the Shanti Stupa at Rajgir in Bihar.

Dhauli Shanti Stupa (Peace Pagoda)
Dhauli Shanti Stupa (Peace Pagoda)
Dhauli Shanti Stupa (Peace Pagoda)
Dhauli Shanti Stupa (Peace Pagoda)
Dhauli Shanti Stupa (Peace Pagoda)
Dhauli Shanti Stupa (Peace Pagoda)

The stupa has four large stone Buddhas on the east side, two of them in a seated position while one is lying down and the other standing upright.

Statue of Buddha On The Western Side (Main Entrance) – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Statue of Buddha On The Western Side (Main Entrance) – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Statue of Buddha On The Northern Side – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Statue of Buddha On The Northern Side – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Statue of Buddha On The Eastern Side (Back Entrance) – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Statue of Buddha On The Eastern Side (Back Entrance) – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Statue of Buddha On The Southern Side – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Statue of Buddha On The Southern Side – Dhauli Shanti Stupa

The stupa has two layers of tablets, the lower layer most probably made out of white cement and the middle layer made of stone. These depict the life of Buddha, his enlightenment, and teachings. There is a top layer that has patterns of nature consisting of birds, animals, and trees. There are 12 panels in each of the lower, middle, and top panels. There are four yellow-colored panels on top of the four Buddha statues. In each of the four directions, you will find a pair of a lion on each side.

Lower Panel 1 Starting Clockwise From Main Entrance – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 1 Starting Clockwise From Main Entrance – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 2 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 2 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 3 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 3 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 4 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 4 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 5 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 5 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 6 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 6 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 7 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 7 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 8 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 8 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 9 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 9 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 10 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 10 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 11 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 11 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 12 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lower Panel 12 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 1 (Starting Clockwise From Main Entrance) – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 1 (Starting Clockwise From Main Entrance) – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 2 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 2 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 3 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 3 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 4 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 4 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 5 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 5 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 6 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 6 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 7 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 7 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 8 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 8 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 9 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 9 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 10 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 10 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 11 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 11 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 12 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Middle Panel 12 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 1 (Clockwise From Main Entrance) – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 1 (Clockwise From Main Entrance) – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 2 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 2 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 3 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 3 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 4 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 4 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 5 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 5 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 6 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 6 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 7 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 7 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 8 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 8 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 9 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 9 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 10 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 10 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 11 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 11 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 12 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Upper Panel 12 – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Panel On Top Of Buddha Statue (West) – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Panel On Top Of Buddha Statue (West) – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Panel On Top Of Buddha Statue (North) – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Panel On Top Of Buddha Statue (North) – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Panel On Top Of Buddha Statue (East) – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Panel On Top Of Buddha Statue (East) – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Panel On Top Of Buddha Statue (South) – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Panel On Top Of Buddha Statue (South) – Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lion Overlooking The Villages at Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Lion Overlooking The Villages at Dhauli Shanti Stupa

The stupa can be approached from the main entrance from the western side of the southern side which can be accessed after crossing Dhabaleswar Temple.

Try to visit this place in the evening so that you can enjoy the 3D Light & Sound Show in the evening.

3D Light & Sound Show at Dhauli Shanti Stupa
3D Light & Sound Show at Dhauli Shanti Stupa
3D Light & Sound Show at Dhauli Shanti Stupa
3D Light & Sound Show at Dhauli Shanti Stupa

Dhabaleswar Temple

Right behind the Dhauli Peace Pagoda, you will find this temple. This temple was rebuilt in the year 1972 on the very spot where the original ancient temple once stood.

Dhabaleswar Temple – Dhauli
Dhabaleswar Temple – Dhauli
Dhabaleswar Temple
Dhabaleswar Temple

Rock Edicts of Ashoka

Apart from the Dhauli Peace Pagoda, the single most important thing out here is the Rock Edicts of Ashoka. The reason it is more of significance is that it is believed that in this very place Ashoka witnessed the massacre of the people of Kalinga done by his army. The Mauryan army destroyed the Kalinga army, it is believed that over 2,50,000 people lost their lives in this battle in the year 261 BC.

The Kalingan army was very strong and had previously stopped Chandragupta Maurya from annexation of Kalinga to the Mauryan empire. Ashoka was a strong leader and he had to prove a point and for him, the victory had to be at any cost.

The victory did come but the bloodshed that came along with it was unfathomable. The battle took place where the Daya River flows near Dhauli and it said that from here Ashoka saw the carnage that had been done. The water of Daya River had turned red with the blood of the slaughtered Kalingan army.

Daya River As Seen From Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Daya River As Seen From Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Daya River As Seen From Dhauli Shanti Stupa
Daya River As Seen From Dhauli Shanti Stupa

The victory was not sweet anymore for Ashoka and he realized his mistake and vowed never to bring this type of destruction anymore in his kingdom under his rule. He took an oath of Ahimsa (non-violence) and that of Dharma Vijaya (victory through cosmic law and order).

At Dhauli you can find one of the most important Edicts of Ashoka. Surprisingly this important historical site is rather simple with just a stone elephant carved out from the stone. This elephant is a representation of Buddha.

Location of Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli
Location of Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli
Location of Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli
Location of Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli
Location of Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli Which Now Has Been Converted Into A Park
Location of Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli Which Now Has Been Converted Into A Park
Location of Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli Which Now Has Been Converted Into A Park
Location of Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli Which Now Has Been Converted Into A Park
Location of Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli – The Rock Now Is Encased In This Room
Location of Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli – The Rock Now Is Encased In This Room
The Stone Elephant Carved Into the Hill Symbolizing Buddha
The Stone Elephant Carved Into the Hill Symbolizing Buddha
Ashoka’s Mother Had Dreamt About An Elephant Before His Birth
Ashoka’s Mother Had Dreamt About An Elephant Before His Birth
Elephant Is One Of The Most Revered Animal in Buddhism
Elephant Is One Of The Most Revered Animal in Buddhism
Rock Edicts of Ashoka Now Sits Enclosed To Protect It From vandalism
Rock Edicts of Ashoka Now Sits Enclosed To Protect It From vandalism

Out here in Dhauli, you will find only Rock Edicts 1 to 10 & 14. Rock Edicts 11 & 12 were replaced by Kalinga Rock Edicts 1 & 2. Rock Edict 13 is said to have been purposely removed as it detailed the Kalinga war and the deaths. All of these are in the Prakrit language which was written using Brahmi scripts.

You will find the following edicts out here (summary version) :-

Rock Edict 1: Prohibition of the killing of an animal in the kingdom including his royal kitchen and imposition of restrictions on festive occasions.

Rock Edict 2: Arrangements were made both for human and animal beings for medicinal treatments and plantation of medical herbs both in his and bordering kingdoms. Planted trees and dug wells on the roadsides.

Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli
Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli

Rock Edict 3: Ordered his officials to set out on tour every five years to propagate moral codes among his subjects.

Rock Edict 4: Ordered his officials to promote the practice of morality and compassion among his subjects and wishes that these practices would be followed by his descendants.

Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli
Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli

Rock Edict 5: Appointed Mahamatras from all sects to establish and promote morality.

Rock Edict 6: Ordered his officers to report him on matters of administration related to the affairs of the people at all times and all places.

Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli
Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli

Rock Edict 7: Self-control and purity of mind are objects of attachment for all sects.

Rock Edict 8: On the tenth year of his anointment, he went out to Sambodhi which was followed by a visit to the Brahmanas and Sramanas, helped the poor, and propagate morality.

Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli
Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli

Rock Edict 9: Recommended the practice of morality, consisting of courtesy to slave and servant, reverence to elders, gentleness to animals, and liberality to Brahmanas and Sramanas.

Rock Edict 10: Proclaimed that morality is the only act of fame and glory.

Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli
Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli

Rock Edict 14: Inscribed way of morality at various places in his vast empire according to the subject matter and places.

Kalinga Rock Edict 1: Addressing the Mahmatras of Samapa, Asoka proclaims that all his subjects are just like his own children and he wishes their welfare and happiness both in this world and the other as he desires for his children. He orders his officials to be free from anger and hurry so that nobody will be punished without trial.

Kalinga Rock Edict 2: He ordered the Mahamatras of Samapa to assure his piety to the unconquered border territories of the forest region (Atavikas).

Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli
Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli

Ashoka Pillar & Buddha Statue Park

This is a replica of the famous Ashoka Pillar, please do not compare it with the grandeur of the original pillar as it’s just a smaller replica.

Right opposite this you can spot few Buddha statues. The authorities must have been planning to make this place into a park but my guess is it’s unfinished.

Replica of Ashoka Pillar at Dhauli
Replica of Ashoka Pillar at Dhauli
Buddha Statues At Dhauli
Buddha Statues At Dhauli
Buddha Statues At Dhauli
Buddha Statues At Dhauli

Kalinga Dhauli Mahotsav

If you are traveling during February then plan your trip to Dhauli along with Kalinga Dhauli Mahotsav. It’s a festival that spans three days and you can see classical as well as modern dance performances. I was honestly quite impressed by the scale of the event and the quality of production.

Performances at Kalinga Dhauli Mahotsav
Performances at Kalinga Dhauli Mahotsav
Performances at Kalinga Dhauli Mahotsav
Performances at Kalinga Dhauli Mahotsav
Performances at Kalinga Dhauli Mahotsav
Performances at Kalinga Dhauli Mahotsav

Tips

It is advisable that you come to Dhauli either in your vehicle or if you are coming by cab or auto then book it both ways as its very difficult to get return transportation from the top Stupa location.

Very neat and clean washrooms are available for tourists which are located near the Stupa.

All the tourist attractions around the hill have no tickets and are open for all.

The replica Ashoka Pillar and Buddha Statues are located on the back road that directly connects the Dhabaleswar Temple.

Resources

Odisha Tourism
Maurya And Sunga Art by Niharranjan Ray

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